Read my reviews of the previous books in the Duality series:
Disclaimer: I received an electronic ARC of this novel from the author.
This book concludes a fascinating trilogy that showcases much of what makes Hawthorne stand out as a writer. What I particularly enjoy is how she delves further into themes of kink and power exchange than most authors, using them to create intriguing characters who are rooted in reality while also including that perfect dose of fictional escapism. Overall, this trilogy reinforces the idea that masochism does not necessarily equal submission; simultaneously, these elements can also inextricably be connected when put into practice. Sharp and Matty personify the complexity of this dynamic in how they upend expectations. They are drawn to each other through their chemistry in a way that settles Sharp and opens Matty to new worlds of possibility. This arc is nowhere near a typical romance, but the romantic elements are fun to tease out amidst the steamy encounters.
While they explore the possibilities of this new dynamic as a pairing, I also appreciate that Hawthorne highlights how characters remain individuals. The unexpected involvement of the other characters in this trilogy with a problem that should have been entirely Sharp’s means that he ends up as part of a unique group of friends (whether he likes it or not). Watching him and Foster attempt a functional adult relationship is painfully adorable (and adorably painful). At the same time, the unexpected developments in Matty’s life force him to address how he handles his various physical relationships. I adored how Hawthorne handles such a positive representation of polyamory in this book, with a focus on healthy communication and appropriate limits.
Sometimes my quick notes as I read the book say it better than I can expand upon in my formal reviews, so here’s all I’ve got about the external plot that ties this trilogy together:
“Love and hate the guessing game of whether the villain is alive.
Oops, nope, they’re dead and it’s perfect.”
This book is a satisfying conclusion to a unique set of relationships. Hawthorne gets to the heart of the dynamics between the characters without ever sacrificing the heat, and I find myself reluctant to let any of these men go.